Customer Stories

Luxury Fashion Brand Optimizes Omni-Channel Retail Distribution Center

About:

  • 350+ branded stores, multi-language e-commerce sites, and available at 3k retailers
  • 1 omni-channel warehouse distributes product across all U.S. retail, wholesale, outlet, and e-commerce channels.
  • Manhattan Associates Warehouse Management solution for IBM i (WMi)

“CognitOps Align provided visibility we didn’t even know was possible!” 

– Area Supervisor, Luxury Retailer

Results:

  •  Picking module live in 2 weeks
  • Quick clarity into which Zones are ready or soon will be ready to work
  • More timely and efficient labor allocation by Zone 
See how CognitOps can help you meet your SLAs and cut warehouse labor costs…

 

This American-founded luxury omni-channel fashion retailer offers ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, accessories, home decor, and a fragrance and beauty collection for women worldwide. Its retail distribution network comprises more than 350 stores across the U.S., multiple e-commerce sites as well as products available in more than 3,000 department and specialty stores. 

Ensuring its omni-channel retail distribution center meets the highest customer service expectations for direct e-commerce as well as store and wholesale buyers is essential to maintaining the brand’s reputation for quality. 

Challenge: Complex Omni-Channel Distribution Operation 

  • Complex omni-channel distribution requires different workflows and SLAs for retail, wholesale, and e-commerce.
  • Existing WMS doesn’t specialize in labor visibility and optimization. 
  • Picking function drives the largest percentage of warehouse labor. 

The company’s single U.S. retail distribution center handles complex workflows for multiple order types and priorities. For example, a wholesale order may require shipping complete boxes, while an e-commerce order needs a shirt in one size, a specific handbag, and a single jacket. 

Merchandise is transported through the warehouse via totes on the conveyor belt, moving through multiple Zones. The company’s existing system reports the entire set of picking tasks throughout all the Zones in the warehouse but doesn’t clarify when an upstream Zone is complete, those totes are on their way to the next Zone, and the picks for that Zone are ready to work. 

The result was that supervisors couldn’t know how much labor was needed in each Zone or when. This lack of visibility led to bottlenecks and labor inefficiency. Because Picking makes up the majority of the retail distribution center’s labor, the company needed an automated warehouse optimization solution that could improve granular visibility to more efficiently allocate staff to specific Zones in real-time. 

Solution: Layer CognitOps Align Picking Module for Insight

  • Layer non-invasive CognitOps Align Picking module on the existing WMS.
  • Expand to the complete Align package with Inventory, Receiving, and Shipping.

Unlike other solutions that require APIs to integrate with the WMS, CognitOps Align is non-invasive–it simply needs access to the database. Align queries that database and pulls data into its system to deliver automated analytics dashboards powered with machine learning, adding an intelligence layer onto existing order and warehouse management systems.

The CognitOps team worked with the retail warehouse leaders to understand the specific blind spots and utilize the WMS data to deliver visibility into those areas. CognitOps Align’s Picking module can now filter the complete list of tasks provided by the WMS to only show the tasks that are ready as they arrive in each Zone. This allows area managers to understand how much labor is needed in each Zone at a specific point in time.

Results: Retail Distribution Center Achieves Better Visibility and Labor Allocation

  • Picking module live in 2 weeks
  • Quick clarity into which Zones are ready or soon will be ready to work
  • More timely and efficient labor allocation by Zone  

The streamlined data connections for CognitOps’ industry-leading SaaS solution allowed the Picking module to be implemented in the retail warehouse in two weeks. Supervisors can now see that when only a small subset of picks has made it to Zone 2, for example, they don’t need to think about staffing Zone 2 until more picks in Zone 1 are complete. The app gives a quick view into what picks are genuinely sitting in each Zone, and they can allocate the labor more effectively rather than chasing the work as they were doing before.

Align also provides visibility into which totes have been inducted into the system. It whittles down the big pool of picks so that the UI shows not only what picks are ready in each Zone but also only the picks are actually available because the tote has been inducted. 

Before Align, supervisors had to leave their workstations and physically go into their picking areas to look at the conveyor and see how totes were queued up. A long queue of totes in a specific Zone would tell them they needed to assign pickers to that area. Now, they can pull up the app and get that information without ever leaving their desk, increasing efficiency for both the supervisors and the staff. 

On-the-floor warehouse supervisors, as well as the VP of Site Operations, have been thrilled with the partnership with CognitOps and the deep insight they didn’t even know the solution could provide across Picking, Inventory, Receiving, and Shipping warehouse operations. In fact, the operations team has made expanding the warehouse optimization solution a top-level priority for the IT team.